Lawyer Pay

After DLA Piper standardizes associate pay across markets, other law firms also boost pay

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Some associates working at larger law firms in smaller legal markets are seeing pay increases.

At least seven of the nation’s top 200 law firms have raised pay for associates in smaller cities or standardized pay for all associates, reports.

The law firms are DLA Piper; Taft Stettinius & Hollister; Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders; McGuireWoods; King & Spalding; Alston & Bird; Ice Miller; and Holland & Knight (which announced the change after the article).

Above the Law has been tracking the increases as they happen, noting that DLA Piper set the standard in March, when it standardized salaries across markets. Other firms standardizing pay are McGuireWoods, King & Spalding, Alston & Bird and Holland & Knight.

Other law firms are boosting pay while keeping a differential in place. Some firms that are hiking pay are still below the DLA Piper scale, and none are paying first-year associates more than $190,000, the amount paid by DLA Piper, according to figures cited by

According to Above the Law, this is the DLA Piper base pay scale for associates:

• First year: $190,000

• Second year: $200,000

• Third year: $220,000

• Fourth year: $255,000

• Fifth year: $280,000

• Sixth year: $305,000

• Seventh year: $325,000

• Eighth year: $340,000

Law firms are raising pay in smaller markets because of profit gains, competition for top lawyers and increased remote work, according to The long-term impact could push more associates to relocate to smaller markets and could put more pressure on midsize firms as they compete for talent against BigLaw firms.

George Wolf Jr., a law firm consultant for Aon, told that the changes will be a challenge for regional and local law firms trying to fend off larger competitors.

“Local corporations will now have the alternative of using an Iowa law firm, for example, or a national law firm with greater reach,” Wolf said.

Updated May 13 at 12:30 p.m. to add Holland & Knight to the list.

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